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RAB NOAKES - Red Pump Special  40th Anniversary Edition

RAB NOAKES - Red Pump Special 40th Anniversary Edition
Neon Records NEONCD015

Back in 1973, the young Rab Noakes was forging his own path with this album, his second since leaving Stealers Wheel. By happenchance he secured enough favour with Warner Brothers to secure a pair of recording sessions in Nashville with top class supporting musicians. His songwriting at this juncture was probably as good as it got (and it was always pretty solid). The result was what has been one of my favourite albums from that era (my original vinyl way beyond unplayable in the passage of 40 years).

Some of these songs became live touchstones in ensuing years. Four of them became single A and B sides that bookended this release. The first, Clear Day (c/w Wrong Joke Again) featured his old team-mates Joe Egan and Gerry Rafferty, who also shared writing credits and it is clear that had he stayed in the afore-mentioned Stealers Wheel, as well as sharing in their success, he would have been a member of a classic folk rock ensemble, with unsurpassed harmonies. The second single, Branch (c/w Sittin’ In A Corner Blues) became a folk club standard. The mono single A sides are included here – and have more charm than the stereo album versions. Two other ‘outtakes’ (Wait Down Here and What’s The Matter) both deserved to make the original cut, in my opinion, hearing them here for the first time.

Several key participants are no longer with us – notably Gerry Rafferty, Dr John Harris and Kenny Buttrey, but this issue is a testament to their talents. Hopefully this will become a series of re-issues – Never Too Late would be a crowd pleaser.

Nuff said. This is classic Rab, and packaged with answers to all the questions we’ve been wanting to ask him about this gem over the years. He deserves the fruits of these labours this time around.

Grem Devlin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 101 of The Living Tradition magazine.